Rough Housing Cousins

  • My sister’s two older boys are really rough and tumble little guys. They think nothing of throwing each other off of things and shoving each other so that they are tripping over things. My sister tries to calm them down a bit but is often somewhat oblivious to how rough they are. When my little boy plays with them, I worry about him getting hurt or picking up bad habits from them. When I talk to my sister about it, not too much changes. Am I being overly sensitive? Should I restrict how much my little guy plays with his cousins or not worry about it too much? ~Julie, StrongMoms Facilitator

  • Judging from your post it sounds like they are borderline violent with each other... so no i don't think you are being overly sensitive when it comes to the safety of your children in this case. If your sister isn't going to do something about their behavior to change it then i feel it is time you gently tell her that if  she can't discipline her children in a way that teaches them to play nicely with their cousins then you will have to step in and do it for the safety of your own  children. if she doesn't like it then i would simply say the children can't play together until they learn how to play nice... and follow through on that threat so she can see you are serious about what you say. If she is ok with you stepping in maybe make them a sticker chart that allows them a reward when they play without any incidents of violent rough housing. or put them in time out when they don't follow the rules. they will eventually learn to play by you rules if they want to play with their cousin. another idea is to give them a game to play that is non violent in nature like baseball or kickball..I recently ran into a child bully in the park who just about pushed Hazel backwards down a slide to prevent her from being near some musical chimes that he wanted to play with. His guardian wasn't anywhere to be seen (in fact i didn't see that child with a guardian the entire time we were at the park) so i very sternly said "Hey, Do Not Push Her, you be nice).. And i would have done the same if his mother was standing right next to me because he put my child in danger and it is my responsibility to keep her safe even if it means stepping in and disciplining someone elses child for them... Also i'm not sure how your family works, but ours is more like a community where the family has a responsibility to step in a correct a behavior when the child is doing something wrong (there is a certain amount of leeway of course since each person parents differently), but the point is that this type of community discipline helps to teach the children in our family that they are to listen to whoever the adult in the area is at the time. This also allows the other parents to be able to freely step in when they think their children could be in harms way. Children quickly learn what they can and can't do around certain adults and everything runs smoothly. My aunts and uncles stepped in when we were little  and now that we are older my brothers and sisters and cousins do the same with our children.

  • If you are worried about your child's safety then i would speak up.  Talk to her, esp. if this is occurring at your house. One option would be to have them play at your house, and then to have rules about play that are in effect at your house.  You certainly can say to your nephews "When at my house, the rules are.....".  It's your house so it's very, very reasonable to have things how you want them.  


  • That is such a tough situation.  Tougher than those two boys it sounds like.  In the daycare I work at they would distract them with other activities that promoted working together.  We played with blocks mostly.  Little boys love to build things.  I have nothing more to offer than just to say re-routing their play to something that encourages them to play nice.  

    If all else fails talk to your Sister about it.  "I think the boys are playing too rough and *blank* isn't use to that kind of play.  



  • Apple_Fritter, That is such good advice to help re-direct attention to an activity that promotes different behavior.  We have the best members here at Strongmoms! :)


  • I have the same problem and I learned that I have to sit in and watch the boys play. As tough as it is, I have also learned that I need to let my boys learn how to handle aggressive and tough play boys in a safe environment and with cousins who love him and aren't bullying him. As a result, my boy has gotten more assertive and has learned to handle the tough play better than I would have ever thought. He has resolved differences in ways I didn't think of. Sometimes you need to let them figure it out...but be close by so you can stop something that is inappropriate or dangerous.

  • Yes, re-directing is exactly what I was thinking of. :D

    Well kindness and appreciation for your fellow man/woman,

    shouldn't end when we use the Internet.